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Importing Contact Data Into Tern
The stages of importing contacts into Tern
The stages of importing contacts into Tern

This article helps you understand the first file you'll import into Tern and how you'll sequence adding information like loyalty programs.

David Shull avatar
Written by David Shull
Updated over a week ago

Welcome to the Tern Help Center Import Series. In this guide, we'll explore the concept of staggering your contact import into Tern, an effective strategy to simplify the process and enhance data management.

The Challenge of Single-File Import

Initially, Tern aimed to accommodate all contact data in a single file import. However, this approach proved to be overwhelming, confusing, and inefficient, particularly when dealing with extensive and varied contact data.

Adopting a Staggered Approach

To address these challenges, Tern has adopted a staggered approach for importing contacts. This method involves breaking down the import process into manageable phases, starting with the core import.

1. Core Import

The core import is the first and most crucial step. It focuses on importing the most essential data associated with your contacts, including:

  • Name (including prefix and suffix)

  • Preferred name

  • Primary and secondary email addresses (up to two emails)

  • Primary address

  • Key dates (birthday and anniversary)

  • Gender

  • Passport information

  • Known traveler numbers (e.g., Global Entry number)

  • Tags

  • Activities and preferences

The goal of the core import is not to upload every piece of data you have on your clients, but to establish a foundation of core information that you can build upon later.

2. Additional Imports

After successfully completing the core import, you can proceed to add more detailed information, such as:

  • Loyalty programs

  • Additional addresses and emails

  • Uploading notes

  • Relationships (e.g., connecting family members)

Attempting to include these details in the initial import can lead to confusion, especially when dealing with numerous data points like multiple loyalty programs.

The Importance of Import IDs

Before proceeding with the staggered import process, it's crucial to understand and utilize Import IDs effectively. These unique strings or sets of characters are key to linking additional information to the correct contacts in subsequent import stages. If you're not already familiar with Import IDs, we recommend watching our dedicated video or reading the corresponding help article.

Implementing Staggered Import in Tern

  1. Start with the Core Import: Focus on the fundamental details of your contacts. Ensure accuracy and completeness in this initial phase.

  2. Utilize Import IDs: Assign unique Import IDs to each contact. This will be essential for linking additional data in later stages.

  3. Progress to Additional Data: Once the core import is complete, gradually add more specific details like loyalty programs and additional addresses. Use the Import IDs to ensure this data is correctly associated with the respective contacts.

  4. Continuous Updates: You can use additional imports at any point in the future to bulk upload information about your contacts.


Staggering your contact import in Tern is a structured and efficient approach to managing extensive contact data. By focusing initially on core information and progressively adding more details, you can ensure a smoother and more accurate data integration process. Remember, the use of Import IDs is central to the success of this staggered approach, allowing for precise data association and management.

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